My Favorite Christmas Dinner

Am I the only one that starts planning holiday meals a month ahead of time?

A few years ago, I came across a classic video of Martha Stewart preparing a traditional Yorkshire Christmas Dinner with Anne Willan and I was struck by how simple and satisfying this dinner seemed. I’ll be honest, sometimes I get pretty overwhelmed by the traditional ham and/or turkey and upwards of a dozen different sides. What’s worse is that it seemed the Thanksgiving, Christmas and even Easter meals were all morphing in to the same menu.  The idea of just a standing rib roast, roasted potatoes, steamed Brussels sprouts and Yorkshire pudding sounded different but still special enough for our Christmas table.  My family was gracious enough to indulge my enthusiasm for a (possibly) new tradition so I dove in and made this meal down to the mustard rub and pan gravy. And you know what? It was fabulous! Everyone was hooked on this meal fit for a king and we’ve never looked back!

If you’re looking for a change for Christmas dinner I encourage you to give this one a try. You’ll be saying “turkey-who?”.

VIDEO: Traditional English Dinner Cooked By Anne Willan (Part one)

VIDEO: Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding and Roasted Potatoes (Part two)

Recipes from Traditional English Dinner Cooked by Anne Willan (Martha Stewart Living):

Standing Rib Roast
Serves 6 to 8

7 to 8 pound rib roast with three to four ribs, trimmed
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
Roasted Potatoes (recipe follows)
2 pounds cooked Brussels sprouts, for serving
Horseradish Sauce (recipe follows)

1. Remove any excess fat from the roast, leaving a thin layer. In a small bowl, combine dry mustard, sugar, and Dijon mustard. Brush mixture over the fat and cut surfaces of the roast. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

2. Heat oven to 450°. Set the roast, rib-side down, in a heavy, shallow roasting pan. (The ribs act as a natural rack.) Using a paring knife, score the fat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and continue to roast, basting every 15 minutes, until it reaches a temperature of 125° for medium rare on an instant-read thermometer. Remove roast to a platter. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan. Set pan on stove over medium heat. Simmer until juices begin to darken, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook, scraping up caramelized bits, until flour is deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil, stirring until thickened. It should very lightly coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Strain gravy and serve with potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and horseradish sauce.

Roasted Potatoes
Serves 6 to 8

3 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and halved
Coarse salt
1/2 cup drippings from Standing Rib Roast

1. Heat oven to 400°. Place potatoes and salt in a large saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and drain. Score potatoes all over with the tines of a fork.

2. Combine cooked potatoes and drippings in a roasting pan large enough to allow the potatoes to roast in a single layer. Transfer to oven, and roast until crispy and golden brown, about 1 hour.

Horseradish Sauce
Serves 6 to 8

1 heaping tablespoon freshly grated horseradish or 3 tablespoons bottled
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

Stir horseradish, salt, pepper, and lemon juice into whipped cream.

Yorkshire Pudding

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
4 large eggs
3 to 3 1/2 cups whole milk
6 to 8 tablespoons drippings from roasting pan, vegetable oil, or lard

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Make a well in the center, and add eggs and 1/4 of the milk. Using a whisk, combine eggs and milk, then incorporate flour; begin with the inner rim of the well. Continue whisking until a smooth, stiff batter forms. Stir in half of the remaining milk. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 12 3/4-cup capacity muffin tins in oven until very hot, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir enough of the remaining milk into the batter until it is the consistency of heavy cream. Transfer 1 to 2 teaspoons of drippings into each muffin tin. Pour batter in the muffin tins, filling them about one-third full; the batter should sizzle in the hot drippings. Return to oven and bake until puffed, browned, and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Yorkshire pudding is best served fresh from the oven, but it can be kept warm in a low oven for about 15 minutes.

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